The laws of Moses were (are) for the Jews alone. It’s not that the Judaic codes are wrong or harmful for anyone else; indeed, some are quite valid. For instance, our Western concepts of food handling and cleanliness find all or part of their origins in Old Testament Jewish laws. The dozens of codes and restrictions that God gave to Moses in the deserts after Egypt were as much to teach about what could cause harm as to teach obedience to the Lord. But they were originally designed for the Israelites alone.
Yet one fact remains: if you put your faith in those old laws, you’re under them. If you convert to Judaism, you become Jewish and subject to its codes and restrictions. Similarly, if you convert to Islam, you become a Muslim obedient to the Koran and Sharia. If you join the Amish, you subject yourself to the behaviors and restrictions imposed by the community. You get the picture.
Paul said these words leading into a discussion about God’s promise to redeem His people. He spent over a thousand years living with the Jews, proving Himself to them and urging them to return to Him. Throughout that time, He promised them a messiah, a true deliverer, who would redeem the people and free them. What they didn’t understand was that God would free them from something much more tyrannical than some government. He would free them from the consequences of their sins because their sins had held them in slavery to evil.
He did it within the confines of the Jewish laws that began with Moses and were complete through all the kings and prophets who followed. Nobody here could keep those laws perfectly. Then came Jesus, who did it…and they rejected Him. They rejected Him after He started saying things that sounded crazy to them, things like “it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick,” and “the Son of Man must give His life as a ransom for many.” And, “I am,” meaning He is God.
That wasn’t the kind of thing they had in mind. They thought someone would come who would free them from tyranny while freeing them from these laws that God had put in place to remind them of who they were. They never expected that He would do something else. Since Jesus freed them – and us – from those consequences of sin, why would anyone want to be under the laws of sin again?
For further reading: Romans 2:12, Galatians 4:22
Lord, I don’t want to be under sin’s control again. I have been before, and it ruined me. Thank You for freeing me, for saving me when I didn’t deserve it.
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